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Food Trucks

Toronto set to ease food truck bylaws

Posted by Derek Flack / February 19, 2014

food trucks torontoThere's good news cooking for food truck lovers in Toronto. The City is on the verge of loosening archaic bylaws that have restricted the ability of food trucks to offer their eats on streets across town. Although the specifics won't be made public until closer to a March 18 Licensing and Standards committee meeting, the Star was able to wrangle some info about the proposed changes, the most notable of which is that food trucks will soon be able to operate near to existing restaurants, something which was previously forbidden.

We're unlikely to see food trucks just anywhere, as the availability of parking will be key to where vendors can operate, but this represents a major development in what has been a long and messy process to get Toronto up to speed on street food legislation. Despite tight regulations, food truck culture has thrived in Toronto over the last couple of years, but the eased regulations will likely favour existing operators as the City is expected to limit the number of permits awarded in a given year.

This is Toronto, after all. There will be red tape. Still, being able to operate on the sidewalk rather than locations designed to safeguard bricks and mortar restaurants will mean that food trucks become a fixture on city streets rather than just the festival circuit -- and that's good news.

Discussion

16 Comments

Chester / February 19, 2014 at 02:56 pm
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I love our emerging food truck scene, but after trying most of them I haven't been blown away. It's not so much of what they offer but certain items but do well as takeaway or in the particular packaging they offer. It gets cold quickly, soggy and bland. But the industry is new and they'll figure themselves out.

I fully object to them being beside or close to restaurants. You're gonna destroy one business to benefit another. Let them setup at parks like Trinity Bellwoods, Christie Pits, High park, City Hall. Give them the ability to work with parking lot owners if they can sell out of the lot for late night crowd eats.

But as per Toronto get ready for the bureaucracy that comes with these things. Increased license fees, objections to signage, all the crap restaurant owners have to go through from the city.
Spike replying to a comment from Chester / February 19, 2014 at 03:23 pm
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Hate to disagree, but I think that these regs are needed in order to keep people from being sick due to food poisoning. Also, having there near other restaurants IS a big deal.

As for the 'bureaucracy that comes with these things'; that a part of doing business in ANY city, not just Toronto, I'll bet. Why should it be super easy to open up a restaurant-brick and mortar, or on wheels-in Toronto? I'd rather be safe than sorry.
Mike replying to a comment from Chester / February 19, 2014 at 03:53 pm
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It's called a free market. Too bad if a restaurant complains about competition from another restaurant (whether it is brick & mortar or a truck).... it's called fair competition! And if their food sucks anyways, why the hell would I go eat there?

I do agree that it's a hassle to chase them down all over the city when you want a bite. Empty lot property owners need to do some coordinating and get some food trucks consistently in their lots (like Portland, SF, and LA).
lister replying to a comment from Spike / February 19, 2014 at 03:53 pm
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Food trucks are already inspected like restaurants.
piokii replying to a comment from Chester / February 19, 2014 at 04:05 pm
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Should private businesses profit from public parks? Are restaurants currently not allowed to open beside another?Whats it matter if its on wheels, it should be peoples choice, the function of competition.
chester replying to a comment from Mike / February 19, 2014 at 04:33 pm
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The advantages a food truck has over a brick and mortar restaurant are enormous. First of mobility, they go to the people, and restaurants have to get the people to come to them. Plus the costs associated with a brick and mortar against a food truck are huge. Restaurants pay rent, hydro costs, plumbing for bathrooms, snow removal, etc. Were comparing apples to oranges here, we shouldn't be pitting any food truck against restaurants we should be supporting both. At least I know that my competition as a brick and mortar has the same rules as I do, were on the same level. Creating unfair advantages in the same market is not free market its just unfair. Whats unfair is that the food trucks right now have to huddle all together in their designated spot and fight over business with each other. Big cities throughout the US have figured this out without hurting the restaurants we should be able to as well.
chester replying to a comment from Mike / February 19, 2014 at 04:36 pm
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Plus think of it like this the corner of Queen and Bathurst, crazy busy intersection right? Well a restaurant probably pays 8K-10K a month in rent and some food truck rolls up right in front for free??!! How is that fair? All you're doing is creating animosity between business owners, when we actually want to work together.
nb replying to a comment from piokii / February 19, 2014 at 06:31 pm
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Of course we should have food trucks in public parks, why wouldn't we? Profiting from public parks is irrelevant, we already have the awful grenadier cafe monopolizing all of high park. What really sucks is spending a few hours in a park and your only food options being frozen fish and chips or a hot dog. That's no way to live. Food trucks offer inexpensive, good food.
Alex replying to a comment from nb / February 19, 2014 at 07:27 pm
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Pack a damn picnic lunch. You're in a park for goodness sakes!
Ezra replying to a comment from chester / February 19, 2014 at 08:46 pm
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Restaurants have the advantage of chairs where people can sit and tables where they can eat. They also have bathrooms, and staff who can bring food to the customers while they sit and wait. Also, their customers are not exposed to the weather, and restaurants don't need to pay for generators or their own supply of clean water, or disposing of said water.
Retard / February 19, 2014 at 10:44 pm
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Ezra, worst argument ever. Don't even know what your point is. If you're suggesting restaurants have an advantage because they don't have the cost of a generator purchase and not have to pay for water or sewage disposal, you are sadly mistaken and have no concept of the costs of operating a bricks and mortar business.
Crikey / February 20, 2014 at 01:28 am
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I don't get the obsession with food trucks, or the shrill insistence that our sophistication as a city hinges on how many of these great hulking restaurants-on-wheels are on the road at any given time. I like to go into a restaurant, sit down and have my lunch. I'm cool with it taking more than two minutes for my food to get into my hand, because I see food as being something to be savoured and enjoyed. I'd actually rather have interesting food carts than these big vehicles. And finally, I am FED UP with pulled pork everywhere I turn. It may have been a neat trend a decade ago, but it has been flogged to death. Ditto for two pounds of "stuff" wrapped up and euphemistically called a "Burrito".
Just my two cents.
Mayor Hate & his brother / February 20, 2014 at 07:40 am
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Food? NO! Drug Trucks, YES!
MGM / February 20, 2014 at 09:07 am
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It's good that food trucks are parked close to nearby restaurants in case we need to use the washroom there
Shivani / February 20, 2014 at 10:40 pm
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Gorilla Cheese, nice. Their dorito cheddar cheese sandwich is off the hook. http://tinyurl.com/gorillacheese
Raj / March 3, 2014 at 11:44 am
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More food trucks would be great, but more food carts would be even better!

And what's with the sour grapes from restaurant supporters?! Mobile food is no substitute for a sit-down meal (except maybe foodcourts and fast food joints). There's more than enough custom to go around.

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